Monday, February 11, 2008

We Can't Wait #15 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Intro to "We Can't Wait"

Directed by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
Starring The Order of the British Actors
Synopsis Potter discovers an old book belonging to the "Half Blood Prince" and begins to investigate the youth of Voldemort
From Warner Bros and the mind of JK Rowling
Expected Release Date November 21st, 2008

Nathaniel: So here we are at the sixth Harry Potter film in eight years. In this episode --excuse me, MOVIE, we investigate the backstory of Lord Voldemort and those meddling kids looking for his horcruxes (someone on the panel will explain for Potter agnostics) How on earth did franchise entry #6 make the list? Did Imelda Staunton's inspired chirping Dolores reinvigorate Hogwarts for all of you as it did for me? Are you just anxious to see Jim Broadbent bring the franchise one step closer to actually including all famous living British actors from the 20th century? Do tell.

Joe: No reinvigoration necessary for me here. Each Potter film has improved upon the last, and the credit for last year's Phoenix doesn't just go to Staunton, you actressexual, you. David Yates managed to get right to the heart of what made Phoenix great -- those training sequences and the frightening awe with which Harry and the kids experienced the Ministry of Magic -- and I trust he'll be able to do the same here.

Broadbent's going to be a fine addition to the cast (and, yes, he's one step closer to British completism) but I'm really hoping this will be the Alan Rickman showcase that he's deserved all along. In the grand scheme of things, the Voldemort backstory isn't the most compelling stuff, but again, I trust Yates to focus the attention where it belongs. On Daniel Radcliffe's sweet, sweet...hey, who wrote that??

Glenn: The fact that David Yates is returning - the first director to make two Harry Potter films since, *shudder*, Chris Columbus - makes me more anticipated for the sixth (SIXTH!) installment than I normally would be. I'm fairly certain when I say that, for me, no HP film will better The Prisoner of Azkaban, but Phoenix was fiiine entertainment so I'm sure for yet another year the franchise will continue on its merry way.

MaryAnn: Count me in as a Yates lover, too. The stuff he's done for British TV has been so adult and so intense that I can't believe he was chosen to direct a "kids'" movie... and then his first Harry Potter last year was the best horror movie of the year. Amazing. I can't wait to see what he does with the next.

Gabriel: At the risk of being called a muggle or a quidditch or some other adorably medieval put-down, I've never really been much of a Potter fan, books or films. They've always struck me as quintessential rites-of-passage tales dressed up in magical clothing that was a bit too precious for my tastes. Nevertheless, I have seen Potters 1, 2, 3, and Order of the Phoenix, and I did adore Imelda Staunton's campy turn. But in truth, I may save my pennies and go see Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway next fall instead. (He'll be naked, which is something you'll never get at Hogwarts.)

MaryAnn: Oh, Gabriel, you've never been out behind the quidditch patch on a Friday night with a flask of dragonblood wine, have you?

Nathaniel: Hee.

I'm surprised at how I've slowly but surely succumbed to the Potter franchise, myself... even if I'm still less than impressed with the boy wizard himself --bit of a cipher as heroes go, really. How about the readers: Is Half Blood Prince on your list or did you give up long ago?

the countdown
#10 Sex & The City: The Movie
#11 The Lovely Bones
#12 WALL-E
#13 Stop-Loss
#14 The Women
#15 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Introduction / Orphans


adam k. said...

Why has Kate Winslet never been in a Harry Potter film?

Also, I think I may have to fly up to NYC for a weekend just to see Equus. The novelty of Daniel Radcliffe naked is just too good to pass up. Not mention that it's supposed to be a great play...

What ever happened with Jamie Bell doing Equus? Is that not happening? Or did it only happen in Britain?

WickedScorp said...

BOOOOOO!!! To the director of the second worst film in the series. Bring back Mike Newell!!!


surely you jest. Columbus made both of the worst films in the series. The only way was up from there.

WickedScorp said...

Columbus' films were mostly throw away cheese but at least enjoyable on a saccharine, superficial level. Both the Yates and Cuaron films are utterly joyless, miserably scripted films to sit through.

J.D. said...

Columbus = HATE.

Yates = Mmeh, okay.

Newell = Quite yes.

Cuaron = GOD.

El Gigante said...

I must give props to Newell for condensing what was a momentously frustrating of the books into an enjoyable film. Still I wouldn't mind if the series experimented with alternate directors. When Cuaron first got the gig he was considered an unlikely choice and I think the producers would do well to venture out and try someone like Shane Meadows or Edgar Wright.

Anonymous said...

Cuaron deserves a "thank you" note for saving the Potter series from itself. He placed the series on a pedestal, a series much more consistent than Pirates or Spidey. I loved what Yates did to Order of the Phoenix... he proved that blockbusters can actually have some emotional depth.

Anonymous said...

1. Gave up. I'll be glad when the whole thing is over and done with.

2. Daniel Radcliffe did Equus in Britain as well. Don't know about the Jamie Bell rumour. And yes, it is a fucking masterpiece of a play.

3. Cuaron's film is joyless? Never. True, he is not all that interested in the text, but frankly, neither was I. When Buckbeak takes flight, I'm right there with him. When the Dementors attack, I recoil. The limitations Cuaron's dealing with are certainly there (plotting, Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe) but whatever. It's a film full of marvelous setpieces, and it still has the greatest Potter performance with David Thewlis.

Robert said...

I get the feeling that the Potter films are just not for lay people. If you're a fan of the book and you can fill in the character and story depth from the text, I suppose they're utterly delightful. But for me, I can rarely decipher what's going on most of the time.

Anonymous said...


My ranking looks something like this for the Harry Potter movies:

B+ - Prisoner of Azkaban
B- - Sorcerer's Stone
C - Order of the Phoenix
C- - Goblet of Fire
D - Chamber of Secrets

So, I'll see it, because I love love love the books, but I'm not particularly excited about it.

There's gotta be more exciting stuff than this coming out in 2008. Or else, what a depressing year.

Anonymous said...

I'm a mad HP fan so Half-Blood Prince is my #1 Can't Wait film. Although I was disappointed with the last entry (and I don't know why exactly), I'm anxious--and much more hopeful--for this one. But David Yates still has to prove himself to me.

Glenn Dunks said...

Isabel, I've found that people who are big fans of the books didn't think Order of the Phoenix (the movie) was as good as could be. It was, after all, the largest book, yet the shortest film. It's my second fave HP film - I loved all the new additions, whereas Goblet of Fire seemed like just one big film (albeit, an enjoyable one) for one big plot point.

But, as I said, Prisoner of Azkaban will most likely never be bettered. Felt like a film that existed outside of the book universe.

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, and about Equus and Jamie Bell (aka my husband) I think it was either not a true rumour or he dropped out because Lily Allen's brother is currently on stage in London.

ryansumera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ryansumera said...

@adam k.

obviously, winslet is too big a star, why not kristin scott-thomas, instead?

and on an oscar note, christie has also been potterized. she was in "azkaban."

Anonymous said...

I've never been able to get into the Potter books, but I've become a fan of the films. I agree with the comment that Cuaron saved the franchise. I'd say that Newell nearly elevated it to greatness (all that underwater stuff!!) and Yates did some fine work with actors (Staunton, of course, and the Looney chick...) But strangely, I find that in between films I forget about half of the details of what's gone on. I guess that sort of makes them the equivalent of fast food to 'em while I've got 'em -- but they don't have a lot of lasting nutrition.

Pfangirl said...

Phoenix was definitely my favourite of film adaptations so far, so I'm all for the return of Yates.

My only concern is that Steve Kloves in back scripting as opposed to Phoenix's Michael Goldenberg. Kloves' Goblet felt horribly rushed whereas Goldenberg managed to do the whole "Potter highlights package" thing while letting things unroll at a quick, but more natural-feeling pace.

Deathly Hallows so has to be a 2 parter!

Anonymous said...

I think the books are a great read (even though they peaked with #4, and then the quality went downhill), but I've never been able to think of the films as anything more than fluff preprogrammed for success by the marketing people. I'm not holding my breath for neither of the remaining two.

I am hoping Bruno Delbonnel (who is one of my favourite DPs) will be allowed to make something refreshing with the look of the series, though.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Harry Potter movies (although I think Prisoner of Azkaban was quite good), but I just recalled myself that while reading Half-Blood Prince, I thought "Jim Broadbent" the instant I finished reading the first description of Slughorn. Such an obvious choice.


pfangirl i don't actually know why people are so excited about the concept of deathly hallows as a two parter. You lose the middle act and you've lost virtually no story. there's a lot of filler there ;)

but then again, i'm not a die hard Potter fan. I think the books are cute but hardly the greatest thing.

i just remember being very interested in the beginning and being about ready to throw the book off my balcony in the middle it was so repetitive

SusanP said...

Nat, have you read Deathly Hallows?

Re: the films, I'm in the "Prisoner" is the best camp. Fully agree with Glenn's assessment that it's the only book to TRULY live outside of the book universe. Both "Goblet" and "Phoenix" are also quite good, but "Prisoner" is the only one that didn't seem to check off book-to-screen plot points as it went along. Not surprisingly, the most intense Potter book fans I know had real problems with it.

I'm definitely looking forward to "Half Blood Prince," as it's my second favorite book (next to "Prisoner") in the series. I think "DH" will also be good, though I worry a little about the structure, since it differs so drastically from all the other books and will rely even more on the three young stars (but that could be a great thing for the film, less of the repetition that Nat points to).

Peter said...

I'm with the general (though not unanimous) consensus that Azkaban is easily the best of the films, but I think a lot of that book's strengths are mirrored in Half-Blood Prince, which gives me a lot of hope. It's not as meandering or multi-threaded as four or five, it's mainly confined to Hogwarts, and there's no ridiculous Voldemort-appearance ending.

So I have hope. I wasn't crazy about Yates' Order of the Phoenix, but at least he didn't make as much of a muddle as Newell did. And yes: more Snape, please.


i have read the book yes... which is why i worry about the middle act. they sit inside that tent for what seems like 200 pages.


Anonymous said...

I've been a parent during the Potter books, so of course I've read all the books and seen all the movies (first showings yet). I like the books, but I think of Rowling as a great synthesizer, rather than an original. (For an original, fantasy writers themselves rever Dianna Wynne Jones, author of "Howl's Moving Castle". I remember that you liked that heroine, Nathaniel).

I think the first couple of movies did an excellent job in creating the setting and the look of the series (which is fabulous), assembling the terrific older cast, and making the child actors comfortable and competent. So credit to Colombus for that.

I thought Yates in the latest movie got too seduced by the most talented members of the cast, becoming (understandably) entranced by Imelda Staunton. But the story has to be about the kids, even if they are the least experienced members of the cast.

I would like to see the last movie (#7) directed by Alfonso Cuaron and written by Steve Kloves (who deserves an Oscar for screeen writing). It's tabu to say so, but Kloves improved on Rowling's writing, editing, sharpening, adding litle points that cleared up plot difficulties. (She's the billionaire, though!)

When reading the books I was pleased to see that Alan Rickman will get the complex character that he will undoubtedly play to great effect. That's one of the reasons I'd like Cuaron for the last movie, with his poetic sensibility and his delicate emotional touch. So that the finale has shades of emotional meaning for all the kids who've grown up with the story.


i'd love to see that too. but sadly, since the potterheads (or whatever they're called) have such issues with the movie version of Azkaban --i guess many people don't realize that movies based on books are not books with pictures but movies -- i highly doubt will get that.

great idea though. I wish you were in charge ;)

SusanP said...

Duh, yes I did read that--though not very carefully!

A return to Cuaron for "Deathly Hallows" would be great. I don't think the reaction of hardcore "Potterheads" will be the deciding factor. As I recall, J.K. Rowling liked his adaptation.

If that happens, it would be the upside of his not taking on "The Hobbit."

Glenn Dunks said...

For me, despite all the films obviously dealing with magic and fantasy, Azkaban and Phoenix were the only two that really felt like they were taking advantage of it. They were stories about magic, not merely stories with magic strewn about like I felt the others were. Although I may be forgetting the first two because they were so bad. Sometimes it's like "oh, here's a quidditch match for no reason other than to show them flying about on broomsticks".

All the training stuff in Phoenix was fascinating. That felt geniune.

Pfangirl said...

Hey Nathaniel, I totally hear what you're saying about that wretched middle patch of Deathly Hallows.

I just think though that unless the final film is a full 3 hours, it will feel too insanely rushed trying to fit in the full chain of events that lead to the big final face-off: Ambushes, ministry infiltrations, snake in the house, Luna's Dad, close calls with Death Eaters, Dumbledore's secret, everything at Hogwarts etc etc.

And I really don't believe you can start pulling out links from this chain because then the logic of certain plot progressions is lost.

I'd rather they break the film at a certain point - perhaps pull an Empire Strikes Back and end Part 1 with our heroes at their greatest moment of peril. That way the audience is utterly compelled to return to the cinema in 3-6 months' time for Part 2.

WickedScorp said...

Christ! I want to pull me hair out! 'Outside of the book universe'... really? AZKABAN attempted to pile on as much of that manuscript into its screenplay as possible resulting in my ultimate movie faux pax which is hammeringasmuchdialogintoeverpossible
completely. Also, both Cuarón and Yates' über-gloomy stylistic take, treating the material so seriously as well as saturating their films in depressed, muddy hues of blue, bled all sense of whimsy from their tales, which is ultimately what makes Potter enjoyable. Let's all remember, the author of this series is Rowling, not Dostoyevsky

Anonymous said...

The books held me in thrall in a way the films never managed to so I'm fairly indifferent to this next film. Although, I think I would really love the film version of the climax of Half-Blood. Great moment for Alan Rickman to play.